British Mosques Open Doors For Tea And Interfaith Engagement

In a climate of rising anti-Muslim rhetoric, the U.K. held its biggest "Visit My Mosque" day yet.

More than 150 British mosques threw open their doors on Sunday, inviting their neighbors in for tea, biscuits, and interfaith discussions.

Visit My Mosque day, a national initiative organized by Muslim Council of Britain, drew support from Church of England leaders, British politicians, and hundreds of everyday Britons eager to show solidarity with British Muslims.

Now in its third year, event organizers claim this Sunday’s event was their largest ever. Mosques from a wide array of Islamic traditions and schools of thought participated. Leaders took questions from the public about Islamic law and teachings. There was a special emphasis on showcasing how British Muslims use mosque communities to organize social action projects, like blood drives, hospice visits, and food collections for the homeless.

People visit Finsbury Park Mosque during Visit My Mosque Day held by Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in London, United Kingdo
People visit Finsbury Park Mosque during Visit My Mosque Day held by Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in London, United Kingdom on February 5, 2017.

In the weeks leading up to Visit My Mosque day, several mosques also arranged interfaith exchanges with other faith communities in their neighborhoods ― attending church services and participating in peace walks.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, visited a mosque in north London. He issued a challenge to President Donald Trump, whose recent executive order on refugees and immigrants has been criticized for unfairly targeting Muslims.

Islamophobic rhetoric and attacks spiked in the UK after the Brexit vote in June 2016, according to Tell MAMA, a British organization that monitors anti-Muslim incidents.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s Secretary General Harun Khan said that he was moved by all those came out to show solidarity with Muslims.

“As the world recoils at President Trump’s so called ‘Muslim Ban’ and the mass killing at a mosque in Canada, [Visit My Mosque day] is a much needed antidote to the poisonous atmosphere we find ourselves in,” Khan told The Guardian. “The British public, Muslim and non-Muslim, have an opportunity to come together and renew bonds of friendship.”

See images of this year’s Visit My Mosque day below.